Add Bearcats to list of regional contenders

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By John Herndon

Don't make reservations for the state golf tournament just yet, but keep the week of October 6-10 open just in case.

Anderson County should definitely be in the hunt for a state berth.

The Bearcats officially placed their name in the mix with a victory in the Garrard County Invitational, held Saturday at Dix River Golf Course, the site of this year's regional tournament.

Proving that their win in the Warren East Invitational a week before was no fluke, Anderson came home with a 307, two strokes better than second place Adair County. Boyle County was third with a 310.

"I am so proud of our guys. I have been waiting for them to do something like this since I took over the program three years ago," said Anderson coach Will Carlton, who added that 307 "is the second-best tournament score in school history. This was a huge win for us."

The competition was largely the same that will be at the regional meet, Carlton said. "All but three of our region teams were in this tournament, so now we know we can play with the big boys.

"Granted, the three teams not there are all regional contenders but to be honest, we played average in my mind. We only fired on about 3-and-a-half cylinders. We could have easily shaved off 10 strokes and come in under 300."

Joseph While fired a 73, the third lowest individual score of the day.

"He started slow but finished strong," Carlton said. "This is the kind of effort I expect out of him every day."

Colin Bussell shot a 76, after scoring in the 90s the week before at Warren East.

"Colin got beat out last year in the last week for the last sport on our regional tourney squad. That stung him quite a bit.

"He is playing like a man trying to prove something and he is making a great argument to get back into the regional tourney this year."

Graham Young, who won the Warren East tournament, scored a 77. "He had only two bad shots all day but they cost him about five strokes," Carlton said.

Dylan Riley had an 81 and Jacob Flora came in at 84. Steven Barch entered the tournament as an individual, scoring an 83.

Earlier in the week, Anderson defeated Shelby County in a thriller but lost its first dual match of the season when Scott County scored a 142-149 win. Both matches were at Wild Turkey Trace.

"Scott played lights out," Carlton said. "They are hands down, the best team we have played since I have been coach. They are a favorite to win their region, the Lexington region and a contender for the state title.

"We played very well. I'll take 149 every day. That being said, we still left a few strokes out there and we left the course knowing that we are right here with them."

Flora led Anderson with a one-under 34 while Young overcame a bad start and four 3-putts to shoot 35. White finished at 38.

"No team in our region is as good as Scott County, so even though I never like to lose, especially to them, I am pleased with the bigger picture. Kyle Wilshire led them with a 2-under 33. He might be the best player we have ever played against."

Two days earlier, the Bearcats did not play their best golf but came away with a 158-159 win over Shelby as Flora birdied the last hole.

Carlton continued to shuffle his lineup and Marcus Lake responded with a 38 to lead Anderson. "He played tougher than a $2 steak," Carlton said.

Flora shot 39 while Barch scored 40. Jade Martin had a 41 while Young had an off day with a 42.